tv PBS News Hour PBS January 22, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: yemen's government collapses, the u.s. backed president and his cabinet step down as shiite rebels effectively take over the country's capitol. good evening, i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. also ahead this thursday, targeting islamic state militants allies gather in london to discuss how to take down the extremists. we talk with the british foreign secretary. >> ifill: plus, why most expecting parents in the u.s. can't expect paid maternity or paternity leave, and why that's bad for the economy. >> anytime that i went to the grocery or had to get gas or buy diapers, i bought everything on my credit cards. >> ifill: those are some of the stories we're covering on
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more information at macfound.org >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: the european central bank announced a sweeping stimulus program today modeled on the u.s. federal reserve's efforts. starting in march, and running through september, the european bank will buy up $1.2 billion in bonds. the goal is to flood the continent's ailing economy with
euros, and make loans and exports cheaper. >> ifill: the new out of europe stimulated wall street, the dow jones industrial average gained more than 259 points to close just short of 17,814; the nasdaq rose nearly 83 points to close at 4,750; and the s&p 500 added 31 to finish at 2,063. >> woodruff: u.s. officials report progress after historic talks in havana, aimed at normalizing relations with cuba. the american delegation pressed for lifting travel restrictions on u.s. diplomats. cuba demanded its removal from the u.s. list of state sponsors of terrorism. afterward, both sides said they'd made a good start with a long way yet to go. >> we have-- as our presidents have taken this step-- to overcome 50 years of a relationship that was not based on confidence or trust. so there are things that we have to dicusss before we can establish that relationship and
so there will be future conversations. >> ( translated ): without a doubt we are going to continue to arrive at this point to formalize. not all the issues can be agreed upon in just one meeting, we need to make proposals and continue the exchange. >> woodruff: there's no date yet for the next round of the talks. >> ifill: a deadly new attack in eastern ukraine doused hopes for a new peace effort. at least 13 people died when mortar rounds blasted a bus stop in the rebel held city of donetsk. lindsey hilsum, of independent television news, reports. >> reporter: they'd just got on the trolley bus when the shell hit. destination-- maybe work, or shopping. doing anything is dangerous in donetsk these days. the victims were those with nowhere else to go.
everyone is used to seeing the debris of war, everyone waits in dread for the call. >> ( translated ): they called me and told me my wife was killed, i didn't see what happened. i just arrived. i saw them putting her in the car. that's all. >> reporter: who fired the rocket? both sides blame the other, and neither will believe the verdict of the international monitors carefully measuring trajectories and shrapnel. the separatist leader, alexandr zakharchenko, stood over the coffins of the bus attack victims and made the prisoners of war load the dead into trucks. in berlin, the russian foreign minister was blaming the ukrainians.
in kiev, the ukrainian president was blaming the russians and far away in davos, the german chancellor was talking about a cease-fire. some hope. overnight, the russian backed separatists took control of donetsk airport. the small band of ukrainian soldiers who'd held on for eight months were killed or retreated. a year ago, this was the gateway to ukraine's economic powerhouse. now it's a symbol of how quickly peace and prosperity can be destroyed. >> ifill: just yesterday russia, ukraine, france and germany met to work out a dividing line between ukraine's forces and the rebels. >> woodruff: the ebola epidemic in west africa appears to be ebbing. the world health organization announced today there were 145 new cases last week continuing a steady downward trend. in all, more 21,000 people have been infected, and more than 8,600 have died, in the outbreak. >> ifill: back in this country, a major public corruption case rocked new york state today. the long-time speaker of the state assembly, democrat sheldon silver, was arrested on federal
charges of taking $4 million in bribes and kickbacks. u.s. attorney preet bharara scoffed at silver's claim that it was all attorney referral fees. >> as alleged, speaker silver never did any actual legal work. he simply sat back and collected millions of dollars by cashing in on his public office and his political influence. >> ifill: silver denied the accusations and said he's confident he'll be vindicated. >> woodruff: in washington, thousands of people rallied against abortion, in the annual march for life. the demonstrators protested the supreme court's 1973 that legalized abortion. as they rallied, house republicans tightened a ban on federal funding for most abortions. a separate bill, outlawing most late-term abortions, was pulled after a number of republican women balked at supporting it. >> ifill: over in the senate
minority leader harry reid re- emerged in public today, after being injured in a new year's day exercise accident. the 75-year-old nevada democrat spoke with a heavy bandage still covering his right eye. he said his injuries are not enough to stop him from seeking reelection next year. >> i hope i'm back full-time. you know, i may not be doing everything as i did before, although this morning, i'm doing pretty well. i've worked up now to where i'm out walking for an hour. so i'm still doing my best. >> ifill: reid will have surgery on monday to reconstruct broken facial bones and drain blood from his damaged eye. >> woodruff: authorities in ferguson, missouri, and the family of michael brown waited today for a u.s. justice department announcement. it has been widely reported that former police officer darren wilson will not face federal civil rights charges for fatally shooting brown.
a state grand jury already decided not to indict wilson on criminal charges. >> ifill: meanwhile, a furor of sorts raged on, over footballs used by the new england patriots. coach bill belichick and quarterback tom brady said they don't know how team footballs came to be under-inflated sunday, when they beat indianapolis to advance to the super bowl. they spoke at separate news conferences. >> when i came in monday morning, i was shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs. i had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until monday morning. >> i've always played within the rules, i would never do anything to break the rules. i believe in fair play and i respect the league, and everything they're doing to try to create a very competitive playing field for all the nfl teams. >> ifill: belichick said the team is cooperating with the n.f.l.'s investigation.
>> woodruff: still to come on the newshour. the government of yemen collapses. britain's foreign minister on how to take down the islamic state group. the debate over paid family leave and its affect on the economy. the political push to engage americans on social media. and, seeking better alternatives to standardized tests. >> ifill: now to yemen, where the country's future and stability is very much in question tonight. earlier today, yemen's president abd-rabbu mansour hadi, an ally of the united states, resigned after a shiite rebel group believed to be backed by iran, took control of his residence. the rebels known as the houthis effectively control the capital sanaa and other areas, but large swaths of the country remain outside their control and in the hands of al qaeda. for more on what this all means for yemen, the region, and the united states, i'm joined by gregory johnsen author of "the last refuge: yemen, al-qaeda and
america's war in arabia." thank you for joining us. tell us how this dramatic collapse came to occur. >> reporter: right. so the roots of what happened today actually stretch back to the arab spring in 2011 when the u.s. the united nations, and yemen's neighbors put together a deal that saw yemen's longtime president step down in exchange for unity and president haddie come in, in his place. president hadi was his vice president. what's happened in the three years since then, is president hadi has really been unable to bring in different groups, groups such as the houthis groups like southern secessionists into his government. it's been a slow-motion collapse and today was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. first the prime minister and & his cabinet resigned. and once that happened, president haddie had really no other option. he had to step down, and now
yemen is a country without a president without a vice president, without a prime minister and without a cabinet. >> ifill: and the u.s. is a country without an ally where it had one in the past. how significant is this collapse to the u.s. efforts to curb terrorism, especially the kind that is rooted in yemen? >> reporter: right. this is very significant and i think it's very worrisome u.s. counter-terrorism officials in washington. what the u.s. has been doing over the past several years is essentially relying on president hadi and for a while president sola, for their permission to carry out drone strikes and for yemeny forces on the ground to follow the drone strikes up with offenses against al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. now, we have to remember this organization, aqaip, is quite strong in yemen. at different times it's attempted to control territory. what's happened in 2014 and now in early 2015, as the government has clapsed in sanaa, the power
has seeded back more and more into the capitol until today when government power essentially evaporated and that opened up a huge amount of space for anybody strong enough and smart enough to take power. and so what we're going to see is groups like the houthiss groups like the al qaeda in the arabian peninsula essentially make a land grab for as much territory as they can possibly hold dispp this is very dangerous for the united states, as well as for europe because what happens in these situations is that al qaeda's able to establish training camps and those training camps, of course attract recruits, and then the worry is that those reunited states croout make their way to the west. >> ifill: and how much of a role do we know that iran played-- does iran play in backing the houthis and other groups who at the same time sitting at the negotiation table with them org issues? >> reporter: right. this is a really important point, and one that the u.s. is often seemed a little bit confused about. the u.s. often calls the houthis
movement an iranian-backed organization, but the houthis are a local yemeny group. they have grievances back to the 60s. it there have been six separate wars that have been fought between the yemeni government and the houthis up in the north in 2010. saudi arabia actually started fighting the houthis as well so it's easy to see this as sowdy and iran in some sort of proxy war in yemen. i think what's actually more accurate is the houthis, like most groups within yemen, will open their hands and take money from anyone. so the houthis certainly get support from iran, but that support doesn't necessarily change their means. they just take the money and do whatever it is that they were going to do anyways, which in this case means trying to put taight government which, unfortunately, i think, large portions of of yemen, including the south are going to resist. so we have a recipe really, for a veryicatic and very disastrous
situation in yemen. >> ifill: is there stl a worry that there will be regional destabilization as a result of this? you mentioned saudi arabia. we just touched on iran. who is the most worried? >> reporter: i think you're exactly right gwen it's saudi arabia. saudi arabia is incredibly, incredibly worried about the chaos from yemen. they don't want any of it seeping over their borders. in recent years they've doubled and really strengthened their border guards. they have a very, very long-- over 1000-mile-long border with yemen, and they're incredibly concerned. they're concerned not only with the houthis but also with members of al qaeda, some of whom have saudi nationality, coming back into the kingdom and carrying out attacks. so they're incredibly frightened, and right now saudi arabia does not have a very good policy. one conversation i had with the yemeni government official today, he said, "look in recent years, saudi arabia has played a very stabilizing role in yemen particularly in helping to prop
up the currency. but if the houthis come to power, as many fear, and if the houthis takes control of the government, that money of evaporate, and then there will be economic collapse within yemen. so once you have economic collapse beneath all this political chaos, then you have a situation in which no one really knows what's going to happen. but we know that yemen won't necessarily implode but, rather, it will explode, and it will affect both its neighbor, saudi arabia, as well as the world at large, including europe and the united states. >> ifill: potentially dangerous domino effect. gregory johnsen author of "the last refuge: yemen, al-qaeda and america's war in arabia," thank you. >> woodruff: next, to the multi- national fight against another terrorist group, the islamic state. representatives from several countries, including the u.s., met in london today to discuss
their efforts to cripple the group. our chief foreign affairs correspondent margaret warner is there and filed this report. >> warner: 21 foreign ministers came to the london conference table. in the face of criticism that gains against islamic state forces in iraq have been slow in coming. but secretary of state john kerry brought an upbeat assessment, using the militant group's arabic acronym. >> we are taking out daesh's fighters in the thousands thus far, single digits, but thousands. their commanders, 50% of the top command, has been eliminated. >> warner: president obama began assembling the international coalition last august after islamic state forces surged into iraq, and threatened iraqi kurdistan. the group now encompasses some 60 nations, including several arab and gulf states, working to curb the islamic state's military capability, financing and online appeal. and a few, led by the u.s., are
carrying out scores of air strikes every week. kerry declared kurdish and iraqi elements have made some strides on the ground as well. >> in recent months we have seen definitively daesh's momentum halted in iraq and in some cases reversed. ground forces supported by nearly 2,000 air strikes now have reclaimed more than 700 square kilometers from daesh. >> warner: islamic state fighters continue to hold a large swath of iraq and syria with strongholds that include the key city of mosul in northern iraq. earlier this week, iraqi prime minister haider al-abadi complained his troops are not receiving weapons and ammunition quickly enough. today, in london, he struck a more conciliatory tone. >> ( translated ): the international coalition which we attended today will strengthen
our resolution to fight daesh. i've asked before for more support and i think my call didn't go unnoticed. >> warner: in turn, british foreign secretary, philip hammond, a former defense minister, sought to reassure the iraqis. >> this campaign is not going to fail for the want of some guns or some bullets in the hands of the iraqi security forces. >> warner: the conference on the heels of jihadist terror attacks in coalition member countries, france, canada and australia. and islamic state threats to kill two japanese hostages. all have intensified public pressure to go after the militants at home and abroad. i sat down with foreign secretary hammond earlier today here in london. for having us. the coalition has been saying, really since the fall, that you've stopped the advance of the islamic state in iraq, but there are reports that in fact they're gaining more territory in syria.
is this broader mission against the islamic state group turning into a stalemate in any way? >> there are two parts to this at mission. there's a military mission in iraq and syria to, first of all halt, and then gradually roll back isil's presence on the ground. but we have to recognize-- and we have recognized in our discussions this morning-- that that is only the first stage. there is a very broad ideology here which has created a brand if you like, among international terrorist organizations, and that is starting to have effect in other countries as well. we're seeing isil appearing in west africa, in north africa, and manifestations of it elsewhere as well. so we have-- we have to roll back ice nil iraq and syria but we shouldn't delude ourselveses that regaining control of the territory in iraq and syria is the end of the job. >> warner: iraqi prime
minister abadi said yesterday he wants-- he thinks the coalition's been a little slow in getting him the training and equipment he needs for his ground forces. what is the hold-up? >> i understand prime minister's albawdy's impatience. obviously, if any of us had half of our country occupied by a hostile force we'd be anxious to get on with the job of reclaiming it. but it's important this work is done methodically, carefully and when the iraqi forces do make their move, they are successful and decisively so. as secretary kerry said in the meeting just now, we cannot afford to fail. >> warner: and how long do you think before they'll be ready? >> some time this year the iraqi forces are going to be ready, i would guess to start making decisive moves against isil-held territory. but i wouldn't want to be more fine grained than that. i wouldn't want to say if it will be in the spring or fall. >> warner: did the paris attacks, some carried out by those claiming allegiance to the
al qaeda group, others by allegiance to isil did that change the scope and the urgency of the overall effort of this coalition? >> i don't think it changes the urgency, but what it has done is re-engaged european public opinion, certainly post the christmas-new year break, reminding them how important this is, not just as an issue of foreign policy but as an important issue for their own domestic security. and we have to see this as an issue about the security of the middle east, the security of north africa, but also, the security of our own homelands. >> warner: so what is the practical effect of your publics here in europe being more engaged? >> well the key important thing for us is that public opinion supports some of the measures that we need to take in order to make them safer. there is always a tradeoff between the freedom, the free
speech the privacy agenda on the one hand, and the security agenda on the other. and there are some things we need to do in europe, for example, we need to introduce passenger name record, information systems in europe the same way you have in the united states so we know who's on a plane before it arrives in our airports or in our airspace. and i hope the events in paris and in belgium have decisively swayed public opinion in favor of sensible measures to make europe safer as well. >> warner: it was last september that all the countries in this coalition agreed to stop the flow of foreign fighters, their own citizens going over to fight. did anyone at the meeting today have any evidence that they actually have been successful in doing so? >> we have significant evidence because we know how many people are being interdicted from the u.k. here before they leave the country. at transit points in europe, i
was in romania and bulgaria last week, both countries which are useed by u.k. foreign fighters heading to turkey and then on to syria. and at the turkish border. the turkish prime minister this morning has said correctly that he can't seal the border between turkey and syria. it's too complex a border for that. we have to help them by making sure that we deal with the transit points, we deal with our own ports of exit, but the turks are doing a great job. >> warner: both the u.s. and in the u.k., the public is weary of war, and in both of our countries, leaders made moves to get out of iraq, pretty soon out of afghanistan. in retrospect, do you think we underestimated the degree to which islamic extremism was just going to reappear in another form as an adversary to the west, in this case, as the islamic state? >> well, i think the lesson is that there is a pervasive
ideology here. it's only shared by a small number of people but it is attractive to a certain group, particularly young people who feel disenfranchised in their societies. and it will pop up wherever the state is weak, and there is ungoverned space for it to flourish. i'm afraid when we succeed militarily against isil in iraq and syria that won't be the end of the problem. there will be failed states elsewhere. there are failed states elsewhere where isil or associated organizations, like boko haram in northern nigeria will pop up to perpetrate this fight. so we are in a generational struggle against a-- an ideology which is a perversion of islam a peaceful religion and which we have to deal with at all levels. we have to deal with its military manifestation, but we have to also tackle the ideology. we have to take it head on.
we have to challenge it, and we have to defeat it in argument as well as by force of arms. >> warner: and the american and british publics have to be ready for that. >> eventually, we will resolve this situation but we have to be prepared for the long haul. >> warner: secretary hammond, thank you so much. saudi arabia's king adbullah has died. saudi tv made the announcement, citing prince solomon who becomethe new king. he ascended to the throne of the leading oil producing state in 2005. he had been hospitalized for some time. he was 90 years old. >> ifill: nearly 60% of couples with children have two parents who work outside the home.
increasingly, they are asking why employers are not doing more to help. recently, the white house has added a push for paid leave to its list of domestic priorities. economics correspondent paul solman has been looking into what it would cost in time and money for companies to expand that benefit. it's part of his ongoing reporting, making sense of financial news. >> reporter: after having her baby, elinore, vanessa hawze took 12 weeks off from her retail job. unpaid. it caused a cash flow crunch. >> anytime that i went to the grocery or had to get gas or buy diapers, i bought everything on my credit cards. >> reporter: elinore's father nick mcauliffe, took no unpaid leave. because if he did... >> we would starve to death if i did. ( laughs ) >> reporter: teacher michelle alcoser was back in the classroom only five and a half weeks after having son, sebastian, all she could afford. >> when i first came back, he
was still only sleeping about 90 minutes at a time, and having the time to sleep and handle all of the additional workload that comes with that was a logistical challenge. ( laughs ) >> reporter: and when her new baby, declan, arrived, claire prestwood was counting on sick or vacation pay for at least some of her maternity leave. but her three-year-old's illnesses had wiped them out. so prestwood went to providers of last resort. >> we solicit leave donations and colleagues or work friends will donate. so far, i've received two donations. >> reporter: they covered two days of paid leave, for which the prestwoods' are eternally grateful. such stresses are the norm in america, but, nowhere else. according to the united nations we and papua new guinea are the only countries in the world that do not provide any paid time off for new mothers. and only since 1993 have we had the family and medical leave
act-- or f.m.l.a.-- which grants up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for full-time workers at firms with fifty or more employees. but the law fails to cover fully 40% of american workers, like part-timer kimberly lewis. >> i don't actually get time off. >> reporter: lewis, a graduate assistant won't be eligible for even unpaid leave when she gives birth february. >> i've been working during this semester break to kind of bank hours in order so that when the baby does come, i won't have to report to work the next day. >> reporter: the next day. as for paid family leave, 16 weeks in the netherlands, 52 weeks in denmark after the birth of a bouncing baby or even a dancing baby, almost 70 weeks in sweden, 12 weeks in burundi-- that's just a pipe dream for americans like lewis. here only one in eight receive paid family leave. president obama pushed paid
leave in his state of the union. and his department of labor has urged businesses to lead on leave. but, claire prestwood points out, the government itself doesn't offer paid leave. she knows because she's a
federal employee. >> it's slightly hypocritical to tell the private sector they need to pay maternity and paternity leave, but the federal government itself does not offer that. >> reporter: the president has now directed federal agencies to advance employees sick leave, to be repaid later, after the birth of a baby, he is also pressing congress to grant six weeks of actual paid family leave, though passage is unlikely. >> reporter: but nothing's changed for private sector workers like vanessa hawze. just to get approval for her f.m.l.a.-mandated unpaid leave, it took multiple calls to human resources, doctors notices, a passel of paperwork. >> it changed my opinion of
wanting to be employed while being a new mom. >> it's just so difficult to deal with your employer. >> reporter: now your heart might go out to these women, but maybe your mind should as well. paid leave not only bolsters families, says economist chris ruhm, but boasts broad economic benefits as well. >> it leads to higher overall employment rates of women. >> reporter: ruhm has found that new moms are more likely to return to work if they get paid leave. >> it's going to preserve human capital, which leads to higher productivity. i think we would be willing to actually pay some costs to support a family value, but in fact in this case, we actually might get a benefit. so, so it's a double gain. >> reporter: take google, one of several tech firms that entice top talent with family friendly perks. when google extended paid maternity leave to 18 weeks, the rate at which new moms left the company fell by 50%.
youtube c.e.o. susan wojcicki, a longtime google employee, herself on her fifth maternity leave, corroborates economist rahm. >> paid leave works to avoid costly turnover and to retain the valued expertise, skills and perspective of our employees who are mothers. >> reporter: okay, so then the obvious question: why hasn't the us joined the rest of the world, papua aside, in offering paid family leave? >> it can be a, quite a hardship for a company. >> reporter: tricia baldwin is the secretary treasurer of reliable contracting, where workers get 12 weeks off, per the f.m.l.a. plus, short-term disability payments of $200 a week. but even that's a burden for firms like hers, she says, that aren't quite as rich as google. >> if we have someone in a position, that job is important. so it means that job has to be replaced, and done by somebody else.
that means paying somebody, i can't imagine having to pay them also for their salary while they're out as well. >> reporter: this is no minority view. a survey of businesses found 98% opposed to mandated paid family leave >> if it's good business, businesses will do it. >> reporter: libertarian economist jeffrey miron disputes the data on the benefits of paid leave, but regardless, he thinks, business policy should be left to consenting adults. >> the government shouldn't be interfering in the labor market. it shouldn't be dictating any terms that are arranged between employers and employees. >> reporter: but are you then saying that labor markets should decide the wages and benefits regardless of any legislation at all, that is, there should be no minimum wage, say? >> that is what i would say. >> reporter: miron's is an extreme view, but it contains a key question about paid leave: who's going to do the paying? >> either the owner of the business is going to pay for it in lower profits or the customer's going to pay higher prices because we've raised the
cost for that business, or it's going to come from the salaries of other workers, because someone has to pay for the paid leave of those people who take advantage of such a policy. >> reporter: but ruhm notes that after california became the first state to mandate the benefit more than 90% of companies reported either positive or at worst neutral effects. >> businesses seem to just make it work, and the polling data we have, when we survey them, most of them say it's just not a big deal. >> reporter: and, supporters ask, is it really good for our economy that mothers like michelle return to work while her son still sleeps in 90- minute blocks and nurses constantly, while shouldering a teaching load that's heavier than ever? >> if i think about how hard it's going to be, then i won't do it. >> reporter: do we want new dads like nick mcauliffe to be back on the job so soon after his daughter is born? >> believe it or not, kids actually need their dad. i do what i can, but i'm gone
for ten hours a day. i'm getting four hours of sleep a night, and still have to put in 40, 45, 50 hours a week. >> reporter: and in fact, most americans say they support paid family leave but no one wants to pay for it. so for the time being, it's still just us and papua, new guinea, going it alone. paul solman, reporting for the pbs newshour. >> woodruff: we've all heard the adage "all politics is local," but more and more it's becoming digital. case in point: this week's efforts by the white house to promote the president's state of the union agenda on social media sites like facebook, twitter and youtube. as part of that push, mr. obama was interviewed today by youtube stars-- people with large followings on the video-sharing site.
he made had some news in this exchange: >> do you think that same-sex marriage will be legalized in all of the united states during the time that you're in office? >> the supreme court now is going to be taking on a case. my hope is that they go ahead and recognize what i think the majority of people in america now recognize, which is two people who love each other-- >> yes. >> and are treating each other with respect and aren't bothering anybody else, why would the law treat them differently? i'm hopeful the supreme court comes to the right decision. >> she has about three million youtube subscribers. >> woodruff: one of the issues facing anyone trying to get a message out is how to do so effectively in this rapidly changing media landscape. the president's state of the union address was the least watched in fifteen years. 32 million people tuned into broadcast and cable outlets, down from a high of 67 million in 1993. online, it was a different story.
far fewer people watched than on television but the audience is growing. in all, 1.2 million people watched the speech on the white house's website. 2.6 million tweeted about it, and 5.7 million liked, shared, or posted about it on facebook. a short time ago, i sat down with one of the architects of the president's social media strategy, kori schulman. she's the director of online engagement for the office of digital strategy at the white house. welcome, kori shulman. so tell us what is this white house doing differently when it comes to social media? >> well, this white house is doing a lot differently when it comes to social media. the sheer fact that there is a digital office in the white house that's dedicated to figuring out how to engage and communicate with the public online is totally new territory. so i think the state of the union this week is a great example of how we're looking to engage on all platforms, not
only could you read the president's remarks in advance on the self-publishing platform medium. you could consume the speech in real time on whitehouse didn't gov, with enhanced graphics and polls and tailored information to your particular city or town and really get a personalized and unique experience. on top of that, everything was shareable so as people were engaging in the speech expuch wag the speech, they could share videos, photos, favorite lines across their social channels not to mention the fact that you could watch live gives of the speech if you were on tum plir glo who is it you would and what is it you're trying to get them to do? the president is not up for reelection. are you trying to get them to contact members of congress? >> i think we generally aim to make this administration as open and participatory as we can. we love for people to provide their feedback and for us to have a conversation with them. ahead of the state of the union
we asked people what, are the issues that they care the most about?" those results from that poll went to the president's desk. and then after that he wrote them a handwritten thank you note. >> woodruff: you know, some people are asking is it really a good use of the president's time to be talking with, as he is today, youtube stars, who do spend their time talking about some occasionally serious things, but some time doing some pretty silly things as well. how do you answer that? >> yeah, well what i would say is the people that are going to be sitting down with the president today have really risen through the ranks of youtube. they have huge online followings. we're talking about multiple millions of people. and a lot of those people are young people that might not otherwise be watching the president's state of the union or consuming content on whitehouse.gov. >> woodruff: does that translate into something that helps the white house? >> absolutely. i think it helps the white house because the president can speak
directly to the american public on the issues that he talked about in his state of the union. and address their questions head on. that's a really rare opportunity and moment i think for a president to hop on to you know, different people's youtube channels and connect with their audiences in a way that we couldn't do without them. >> woodruff: kori shulman, director of the office of online engagement at the white house. we thank you. >> thank you very much. >> woodruff: and we take a broader look at digital political strategies with william powers. he is a research scientist at the laboratory for social machines at the m.i.t. media lab. brian donahue. he's a veteran of the 2004 bush-cheney campaign. and a former official of the republican national committee. he's a founder and partner at kraft media digital. and hank green who was one of the youtube stars to interview the president today. he has more than two million subscribers to his youtube channel. we welcome all of you to the
program. hank green you just did a first-of-a-kind sit-down discussion with the president. how did it go? >> it went pretty well i think. to be honest i don't remember very much of it because i was a little bit scared. >> woodruff: did anything stand out? can you remember anything of it? >> yeah, i've not had a lot of time to debrief because they've been shuffling me around and i got to talk to lots of cool people like you. i'm getting a delay in my ear, so if you could go to someone else. it's making it very difficult to talk. >> woodruff: okay, we will come back to you. we were just looking at a little video of you talking to the president. brian donahue, who is here with me, as a republican you look at the white house doing this. does it look like something that's a good idea? should they be doing this? >> absolutely. i mean, first of all it's no longer the state of the union. it's really hashtag sotu. that's what everybody refers to it now, people following this online through twitter, through
facebook, are doing this through hashtags and the president and his team does this extraordinarily well. they're absolute pros in social media and the new ways in communication. you know, similar to tom brady marching down the field on his way to the super bowl. they know these plays. thane it well. and-- but i would also say judy, that the republicans, they deserve credit as well. from 2014 to now seems like they've got their speed together and they're really executing well on social media, so we saw a lot of activity there. >> woodruff: it sounds like you're playing catch-up. you mentioned tom brady and i'm thinking of running down the field with a deflated football. but we're not going to go there. you're saying republicans are playing catch-up. do i hear you saying that? >> they did two fr 2012 but in 2014 with a lot of victories-- there were a lot less democrats in the chamber on tuesday night during the state of the union because the republicans were executing very well in all communication mediums, including social media. i think the republicans did an excellent job on tuesday night,
and jonie ernst deserves a lot of credit as well. >> woodruff: william powers at m.i.t. how do you measure the effectiveness of something like this? >> right, judy, well, it was amazing to see obama being shown the google analytics about his speech. and in fact, that's how you show reach and effectiveness and exactly what happens when this stuff is sent out into social media. there's a whole science of social media analytics that does the analysis. it shows the trends, and it's actually exploding, and there's all kinds of things we're learning. we're going deeper and deeper into the meaning and seeing the public in a new way. this is the new public sphere, and we're just beginning to understand it, and it's a very very rich future for science. >> woodruff: and william powers, staying with you, what does it bring the white house? what does it bring a politician to engage with this new audience out there through social media, through youtube? >> right. well, as miss schulman from the white house pointed out, this is
an opportunity to speak directly to the people and presidents in the past have always embraced such opportunities. think of f.d.r. with the fireside chats. this is a new version of that, you might say. it's a rich medium. it's an interactive medium where people can do things and feel part of the conversation where they really can't with traditional media. and finally, it's a new style of conversation that's the conversation of our moment, and a president really has to be able to speak that language and reach those people. in speaking to hank, this was this wonderful informality that made it feel like a different interview from traditional media that i really enjoyed. >> woodruff: hank, i will come back to you now. i hope the delay has gone away. let me ask you, how different do you think your conversation with the president is from say, when he sits down with a television news anchor, and why is this something you want to do? >> well, it's not the sort of thing you say no to. even if i didn't want to do it i think that you still would,
you know. but, you know,ent to do it because i have an audience that i feel like sometimes aren't, you know connected. they don't necessarily feel like they're pawrt part country. they feel more like citizens of the internet, citizen of shirr internet communities, and i want them to feel like they're part of america because i want them to be involved in the political process because i think without that, democracy doesn't work anymore. >> woodruff: does it feel different, though, do you think, from other media interviews with the president? >> oh, yeah. i think it feels different, but i think the goal remains the same, which is to inform the american people in the ways that, you know, they-- that they connect with media, in the ways that they get information. >> woodruff: brian donahue, i want to come back to you, i'm just going to be very crass about it. what does the white house get out of this? how does it help the president? un we point out, he's not running for reelection. how does it help his agenda to be doing this? >> sure. well, the new media offers
opportunity for the president to extend his message. twitter, facebook online digital engagement increases that echo chamber so that the president can engage with his base, to push his agenda and his policies, but also reach towards new audiences as well. >> woodruff: i mean, does that mean, for example oimmigration. he wants a certain kind of immigration policy to be passed by congress. is this going to make it more possible to get immigration or child care legislation or anything else that he's pushing for? >> any time a political leader, including the president is engaging audiences and helping them to carry his message forward into new network, into new places, that's effective. that is the way that new media works these days. >> woodruff: and bill powers how do you see that? i mean, is it-- does this translate into something that has tranchible benefit for this president or future presidents? >> absolutely. i mean here we are talking about it judy. i think it's resounding around
the country around the world. the president has to go where the people are and increasingly, the people are in this medium. you can see the numbers the tv viewership going down, the socitancy and sharing and so forth going way up through the roof. there are billions of tweets every week. this is the place where our leaders really have to be, not just our president. he's the one who mastered it first, both in elections and now i think in pushing his policies and it is going to extend to everybody else. it just has to happen. this is the future. >> woodruff: we are so glad for the three of you to be joining us. hank green fresh off your interview with president obama. bill powers join us from washington and brian donahue joining us here in washington. >> ifill: as congress begins to tackle a new federal education law that would succeed no child left behind, one of the major dividing lines is already clear.
what is the proper role and use of testing? it's a question that has long touched a raw nerve among parents and educators. a new book explores that controversy and testing's possible future. hari sreenivasan has our conversation from our new york studios. >> sreenivasan: on the one hand, parents know their children's talents can't be qawntified by multiple choice tests. at the same time, they often want their children to do well on high-stakes exams. a new book explores those issues and a growing backlash against testing in many circles. it's called "the test: why our schools are obsessed with standardized testing but you don't have to be." the authorainia joins us now. it's been a dozen years since no child left behind several years since the race to the top. now we're starting to roll out common core, and as soon as i say these phrases there are parents already bracing themselves. our kids are not at the competencies that were the goal and your book really says in part testing is contributed to the problem.
>> yeah, you know, it really is a case of big unintended consequences because tests were supposed to have some kind of system of equity and objective measures of how students were doing, but because of the high stakes attached to them, districts and schools are increasingly spending more and more time prepping for the tests and also giving benchmark and interim exams up to a high of about 113 by the time students graduate. >> sreenivasan: 113 tests just seems mind-boggling. we've done several stories about testing on the program. what is it in your research that you found that most surprised. is it the industry that's grown up around it? is the variance in different states? >> i think it's, you know considering the stakes again, that we attach to these tests and the amount of stock people put in them. we talk about data-driven decision making and outcomes as though this were some measure but the tests are being used in
ways never designed for. and proficiency, which is dictated in the law, no child best left-hand doesn't have a single scientific definition. there's a real gap there, i think, between the level of science that we're working with and then the decisions we're making based on those measurements. >> sreenivasan: it seems the intention was noble to try to figure out a way to measure the problem. you know, one of the advocates for testings will say if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. so how do you know which schools are failing if you don't know how the students are doing in inside those classrooms. >> right. >> sreenivasan: what happened from that noble goal to where we are now? >> the problem is exactly that. there is so much we don't measure, starting with sents that aren't math and reading. these tests are math and reading based only. they don't test writing very much. besides all the other school subjects -- science, social studies-- there are also 21st century skills, creativity collaboration. you can't show those with an individual putting marks on a piece of paper. so the argument for plane
educators is they're being forced to take attention away from what might be seen as the most important goals of school in order to focus on producing certain results on tests. and as for the argument that we're trying to establish equity by identifying failing schools, in fact, what you see is that the same schools fail over and over again. income is the strongest predictive factor in the outcome on these tests. sp merely measuring schools doesn't necessarily improve the outcomes. >> sreenivasan: are some of the critics kind of throwing the baby out with the bath water in the sense there's testing, there's measurement, there's standards, and we're kind of lumping it all together. is there not a role for the federal government in getting all this information together in a way that state state governments aren't intense vised to do. >> there's a new argument saying the mistake perhaps was attaching stakes to the test because when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good
measure. that's kind of an adage in social science. so perhaps the federal government's role should be in data collecting but without attempting to make decisions about cha schools are failing or whether teachers should get assessed ratings based on the outcome on a test we can all agree is crable in its results. >> sreenivasan: you even go back to the history of what some of these tests were designed to do, and you're saying sometimes they weren't actually designed to measure the individual students but really the sort of collective, and now they're being used almost as political weapons depending where you fall? >> that's right. the proficiency target idea, whether someone gets a 181 or 182, like a girl in florida i profiled, you know she's being held back in the third grays gradebecause she's missed her reading score by one point and the test used was never designed to make a specific determination that specific about one single student. >> sreenivasan: there's also the philosophical question on is testing a good indicator of future outcomes? so colleges are basing their
entrance of certain applicants usually on a grade point average and s.a.t. maybe some other extra-curricular activities. they're saying based on that i kind of have an idea of whether you'll do well here and on into the working world. >> right. one of the most interesting kind of emerging factors in the realm of assessment is the idea of half of what we need for success is not determined by academic measures at all. these noncognitive measures -- grit, perseverance. and these things actually can be-- they can be assessed through surveys, low-stakes surveys. and the types of surveys that these organizations are doing in fact, are quite predictive of people's success later on in life, even more so than g.p.a. alone. >> sreenivasan: you framed your book a little in a way of a's guide. there are a lot of people just getting their kids into the system, realizing how stressful it can be. what is a parent to do? >> well i give-- like you said a menu of options. and the first one is don't
panic. these tests are there but they weren't handed down from the mountain. they are able to be thought through criticcably. i give step-by-step instructions for parents who want to opt out of the tests and i talk to parents who want their kids to get through the test and survive but not overtake the child's experience of school, to avoid test anxiety with methods like mindfulness and things that you not only on the test but also in life. >> sreenivasan: all right anya, thanks so much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: finally tonight >> ifill: again, the major developments of this day. king abdullah of saudi arabia died at the age of 90. state tv announced crown prinse salman will become monarch. and the u.s.-backed president of yemen resigned, along with his cabinet, under pressure from shi-ite rebels. >> ifill: and that's the newshour for tonight.
on friday, indie rock icons sleater-kinney on their first new album in ten years. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks. for all of us here at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> lincoln financial-- committed to helping you take charge of your life and become you're own chief life officer. i.b.e.w. the power professionals in your neighborhood.
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report" with tyler mathisen and sue herera. monetary bazookas. the european central bank enters a new era, committing more than a trillion euro to revive the euro zone economy, but could it be a massive misfire? investors react, the dow soars more than 250 points. the s&p 500 erases its losses for the entire year so far and european stocks take off as the global markets digest the ecb's historic move. all that and more tonight. let's say it in unison for "nightly business report" for thursday january 22nd. >> good evening, everybody. on this day, it was all about europe and a massive new stimulus program